Today I want to share with you my very favorite part of our honeymoon: our hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia/Goreme, Turkey! When Keith and I were planning out honeymoon I was terrified of the plane rides, but not the hot air balloon ride. It just never crossed my mind to be afraid of it! (After reading/seeing the news the past few weeks, I probably should have been a little nervous!) I didn't really know what to expect for the balloon ride; I just knew it was going to be pretty cool.
Some misconceptions I had about our ride:
-It would be cold
-We would be the only people in the basket
-The basket would be very unstable
I created a video to show you the highlights from our ride:
We woke up at about 4am, and a balloon shuttle picked us up at about 4:30am. We were on a shuttle with a whole bunch of people and we got dropped off at the Voyager Balloons headquarters in downtown Goreme. When we arrived we were greeted with coffee, juice, and breakfast pastries. It was early and I was too sleep deprived to take any pictures. We paid for our reserved ride (it cost about $150/each) and around 5:15am we were taken by shuttle to the takeoff location.
When we arrived we could see several balloons being filled with hot air! I don't know what I expected hot air balloons being filled to look like, but it wasn't this!
Once the balloons had been inflated to the point where they were ready for liftoff, the passengers climbed into the bakets (which were much larger and sturdier than anticipated) and balloon handlers held the baskets down until we were all ready for liftoff. Before the balloon could fly, all 16 passengers had to be squatting down do the weight of the passengers was at the bottom of the basket. It wasn't long before we were allowed to stand and start taking pictures.
I was really surprised at how safe I felt in the basket. I wasn't nervous about climbing almost 3,000 feet up into the air, and I wasn't worried about the balloons popping. It felt safer than flying in an airplane!
Most balloon rides take off before sunset so you're treated to the view of the sun rising over Turkey. I can't even explain how amazing it was and the pictures surely don't do it justice.
We were lucky in the fact that our balloon pilot was the co-founder of our company: Voyager Ballones. His name is Mehmet Halis Aydogan, and he was incredible! He had witty commentary, he offered to take a lot of pictures of us in the air, and he was so knowledgeable about everything and anything pertaining to hot air ballooning!
Mehmet told us that Cappadocia is the #1 desination in the world for hot air ballooning, and it's easy to see why! The views were amazing and my jaw was dropped pretty much the entire ride. He told us that over 100 ballons with 16+ people in each basket fly every single morning. That's waaaaay more than anywhere else in the world.
There were some times when the balloons went close to each other and Mehmet said when the balloons touched they called it "kissing." He kissed lots of balloons.
So naturally we had to kiss too.
Our ride lasted over an hour! I had been worried it would be cold so high up in the air but as soon as we arrived at the take off location Mehmet said, "Lots of people think hot air ballooning will be cold, but it's called 'hot' air ballooning for a reason!" and I felt kind of dumb for not realizing that. We were right next to a huge flame and a I sort of wished I hadn't work such a thick sweatshirt for the ride!
But, I was focused much more on the views than on the level of heat emanating from my body.
I had heard about bumpy landings, but ours was super smooth! I wasn't nervous at all. As soon as we landed our chase crew started decorating our 16 person basket and once we had all gotten safely out of the basket, we were treated to a champagne toast! You can see Mehmet uncorking the champagne bottle in the video I posted. Our flight/chase crew made sure to get a picture of everybody in front of our basket!
Everyone was given a hate (which I'm wearing) and a certificate. Our certificate had our names written on them in calligraphy! We had booked the flight before we were officially married so my certificate has my maiden name on it which kind of bums me out, but oh well!